Literary Hub

Greg Iles: In Praise of Larry McMurtry (Postmodernists, Not So Much)

Gre Iles most recent book, Mississippi Blood, concludes his Natchez Burning trilogy.

What was the first book you fell in love with?
Arty the Smarty by Faith McNulty. I was three or four years old when I read that, and it shaped me as a writer. It’s about a smart fish who thinks up myriad ways to avoid being hooked and to make a fool of the fisherman while the other fish he knows get caught.

Name a classic you feel guilty about never having read?
I’ve hardly read any postmodernists. As my friend Scott Turow says, they cost literature its audience. So maybe I don’t feel guilty about ignoring them.

What’s the book you reread the most?
The Honorable Schoolboy by John Le Carré. I think it’s the most underrated of the George Smiley books. Though it’s a British novel, it captures something of the moment when American power, and America’s image of itself on the world stage, began to go into decline. The personal story in it is Le Carré channeling Graham Greene.

Is there a book you wish you had written?
I wish I had written Lonesome Dove. It’s a tour de force of narrative and dialogue and insight into human nature, and had I written that, I would be a far greater writer than I currently am!

Originally published in Literary Hub.

Related Interests

More from Literary Hub

Literary Hub6 min read
Lara Vapnyar on the Book That Made Her Weep For Hours
I have to start with a confession. It’s not unusual for me to cry over a book. I choke up when I reread the scene of the old Prince Nikolai’s death in War and Peace. I tear up when Ennis calls Jack “little darling” in Brokeback Mountain. I start weep
Literary Hub5 min read
Why Do I Recite the Same Paul Celan Poem to All My Dates?
You were doing it again, my roommate Renee accused me one morning, turning off the hairdryer, sticking her head out the bathroom like a hand-puppet. I heard you Corona-ing last night through the wall. We all have material that works; sparkling coming
Literary Hub11 min read
Susan Steinberg On The Value Of Writing An Ugly Draft
Halfway through my conversation last week with Susan Steinberg about her new book—her first novel—Machine, I had to backtrack and slip in, “Oh by the way, I loved the book.” She exhaled with relief, and said, “Oh, thank you. You just made my day.” Of